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The Hidden History of Burma: Race, Capitalism, and the Crisis of Democracy in the Twenty-first Century
The Hidden History of Burma: Race, Capitalism, and the Crisis of Democracy in the Twenty-first Century
By Thant Myint-U
304 pp, Norton, 2019
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Just a few years ago, Myanmar (also called Burma) was widely seen as an international success story. In March 2011, after half a century of military rule, a quasi-civilian government led by the former general Thein Sein came to power and embarked on a remarkable campaign of political and economic reforms. Over the next year and a half, the government released dissidents, lifted press censorship, let the democratic icon Aung San Suu Kyi reenter politics after spending years under house arrest, and opened peace talks with more than a dozen rebel groups. President Thein Sein’s administration also took important steps to rationalize an economy distorted by decades of autarkic socialist policies and harsh Western sanctions.

On the foreign policy front, Myanmar spurned China, its overbearing patron, by suspending unpopular infrastructure projects, and it moved to improve relations with the United States and the West. In late 2011, U.S. Secretary of

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